Shirking my patriotic duty.

I find the notion that I must march lock-step with the POTUS in order to be a real American preposterous. Ah, but I’ve already been on that rant so I’ll take a pass on it for now. No, what got me going this time was an interview on the public radio program “Marketplace” on Friday. They were discussing politics, specifically presidential candidate John Kerry’s position on Iraq and the “war on terrorism.” The gentleman being interviewed was critical of Kerry for his narrow view on the war on terror; specifically Mr. Kerry’s desire to focus on Al Qaeda, Bin Laden; and his arguments against fighting in Iraq because it does not quite fit his narrower vision of a “war on terror.”

Once again, I’ll through in my disclaimer that I’m a registered Democrat. I am not an impartial voice. I have never voted for a Republican chief executive of any flavor in any election (though a twelve year history of voting is hardly much to speak about).

Here’s my return of service (to throw in a tennis metaphor)… it would seem that Mr. Kerry’s statements are driven by Mr. Bush’s arguments for starting the Iraq conflict. Don’t get me wrong, I think there were several good reasons for going, but 43 spent too much time talking about red-herrings and too little time talking about good reasons during the build-up. Now his credibility suffers, as well as America’s collectively as a result. That’s why Mr. Kerry spends time talking about fighting the so called “real sources of terror” like Al Qaeda in Afganistan. The Bushies spent far too much time blowing Iraq’s links to Al Qaeda, terrorism as a whole, and “weapons of mass distruction” way out of proportion. Now that reports have surfaced that the links were greatly exaggerated, is it any wonder that the argument for ousting Saddam as a whole seems weaker, and is the target of political attacks, even if some of the reasons for fighting in Iraq were and remain good ones? Yes, members of Al Qaeda may have indeed enjoyed safe haven in Iraq (even if it was mostly in the northern parts of Iraq under Kurdish control, not Saddam). Yes, Saddam is an evil man who has no love for the U.S. (even if we did support him with weapons and money during his war with Iran). Yes, Saddam made every effort to thwart the efforts of the world to eliminate his various weapons programs. Here’s the Bush problem… Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, they apparently had no remaining weapons programs to speak of, the world’s efforts to keep Saddam and Iraq contained apparently was working, and Iraq’s ties to terrorism went only has far as it being a safe haven for a handful of suspected terrorists. Now I’m trying to be fair here, the Bushies never directly said Iraq had anything to do with 9/11, but it seems to me they implied it over and over again. Take this quote from Condoleezza Rice, “No one is trying to make an argument at this point that Saddam Hussein somehow had operational control of what happened on Sept. 11, so we don’t want to push this too far, but this is a story that is unfolding, and it is getting clearer, and we’re learning more.”(Associated Press, 9/26/2002) Maybe I’m crazy, but that sounds an awful lot to me like she’s admitting there’s no proof of a direct connection now, but they expect they will find one. Did you notice the strategic use of the word “but” in Dr. Rice’s statement, followed by everything that followed? In light of what is now known it seems misleading, self serving and irresponsible.

One of my core beliefs as a parent is that I must remain honest with my child. It may sometimes be easier to convince my child to do something in the sort term by relying on half-truths and exaggeration. However, the parent pays the price in the long run. The child gets smarter and eventually figures out the parent’s game. In the long run the parent looses credibility, and with it, the respect of their child. In other words, let your arguments stand on the real merits of your case or don’t bother. Otherwise you risk winning this argument at the expense of every future argument.

The same holds true with chief executives.

Now Mr. Kerry is a politician. As a Democrat, he’s a politician that I’ve been a little disappointed with, but he’s gotten too far not to be a good politician. His opponent has made himself vulnerable by exaggerating his case on a particular issue with the public. Who in their right mind wouldn’t take some advantage of it, especially when his opponent based his previous campaign on the issue of trust?

My reading list for this entry: 2002/10/20021007-8.html language=printer